Saturday, April 12, 2014

Aloha to Spring Sunshine, Walking Trails, and Cherry Blossoms

Howard County offers several walking trails along the Little Patuxent River.   I parked near Savage Mill and found my first friend -  the Korean Jindo Dog!  

The Jindo was accompanied by a group of Korean hikers who also enjoyed the spring sunshine!

The Little Patuxent River winds its way under ... 

... Interstate 95!

The two mile hike ended at the Guilford Pratt Truss Bridge. From the Preservation Howard County Preservation (link),

The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad's Guilford Pratt Truss Bridge spans the Little Patuxent River along Old Guilford Road. The 1902 bridge represents two industries of importance to Howard County, railroading and granite quarrying.

The B&O's legacy is well known. Part of that legacy is its experimentation with and use of new bridge designs, such the Pratt Truss, patented in 1844, according to the United States National Park Service Historic American Engineering Record. Maryland was home to America's only granite production outside of New England in the early nineteenth century, and by 1890 granite production in the state had increased to 23 active quarries, according to the 1971 official Maryland Hall of Records Commission state history, The Old Line State.

Walking back to Savage Mill,  I spotted beautiful homes ...

... and cherry blossoms along the river.

What's blooming in your backyard?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

I also spotted a gorgeous cherry blossom tree on Fort Meade in its historic cemetery.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Aloha to O'Lordans Irish Pub in Westminster, Maryland

Last Sunday, I drove through Maryland's rolling hills to Westminster, Maryland, where the Washington Romance Writers (WRW) hosted its annual retreat.  I met one of its members for lunch at O'Lordans Irish Pub.  From its website (link),

The stone building appears on the maps between 1867 and 1870 as part of a land tract marking the opening of the west end of town. It opened as a foundry where they developed and refined innovative machinery such as the "Lion Fodder Crusher", making the job of local farmers easier. In 1878 the property was purchased by B. Frank Shriver Company. Having paved the way for advances in the canning industry, Shriver sold the property to Farmers Supply Company.

We have knowledge of several special uses of the building. There was a live chicken house, barber shop, teen center and practice hall for the Westminster Municipal Band. The first floor housed the Stone House Restaurant owned and operated by the Sharkey Family in the 1930's. It also Housed B's Coffee Shop operated by Bernice "B" Fox in the 1980's. 

My luncheon partner enjoyed Beef and Guinness Stew:

Tender beef slowly cooked in a rich Guinness gravy with pearl onions, carrots & potatoes. Served with old world bread.

I savored Bangers and Mash (that was also cooked in Guinness beer).

Can you guess my luncheon date?  Do you have a Irish pub near you?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Aloha to Baltimore Area Council (BAC) Scouting Achievements - Eagles and Volunteers

You may recall the Oahu Chief - a statue outside my youngest son's elementary school from Pearl Harbor.

Kalani I Ka Lewa
Ascend to the Heavens

Kalani I Ka Lewa by artist Viliami Toluta’u was inspired by the natural instinct in humanity to be free as we are in America. The young Ali’i (chief) is releasing an eagle into the heavens, symbolizing the potential of children to soar high in life with education as their wings. 

Note the chief released an eagle ... 

... my oldest son completed his Eagle Scout Project in Hawaii.  He created the "Hickam Historic Trail".  I posted pictures on our travel blog, ALOHA ON MY MIND, at this link, link, and link.   We moved one week after Andrew passed his Eagle Scout Board of Review - the Aloha Council mailed his Eagle Award to our new address in Maryland. 

Each spring, the Baltimore Area Council (BAC) recognizes the Class of Eagles from the previous year.  This year, the BAC invited Andrew to participate in their reception.   In 2013, over 400 Scouts in the BAC received the rank of Eagle (with 100+ attended the reception).   

The reception also recognized two teen girls who received the Silver Star for Venture Crew (seated with the Eagles above) and notable adult volunteers (seated below).   Finally, the BAC recognized four more volunteers for working with Socuts with special needs.

Do you have any Scouts in your family?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Aloha to the Maryland Vehicle Administation (MVA) - Driving into the Inferno

Aloha!  I recently experienced an epiphany ... I would like to write beyond book reviews and author promotions.  I would like to write humours musing of daily life.   Let's see if I can amuse you ...  

Last Saturday, we had a "free" morning - no youth bowling.  No scouting events.  I could have taken a long walk in the gorgeous sunshine.  Instead, I drove into the Inferno - my sixteen year old needed his learner's permit from the Maryland Vehicle Administration (MVA).

Driving to the MVA, my mind kept flashing to the insurance commerical featuring a driver who grew a beard waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV).    

We dragged ourselves out of the house at 0-dark-hundred to stand in line.   In fact, we stood in line by the entrance with the sign, "Enter here for Driver's Licenses".  Our early arrival placed us fifth in line.   I thought this might not be so bad until I noticed drivers lining up in front of the other door.  I rechecked the sign, "Enter here for Driver's License".   Still, both lines grew long ... and then a uniformed MVA worker instructed my line to join the other line as the MVA only opens one door on the weekend.  This bumped me from 5th to 50th.   Hmm, this did not bode well.

Driving to Ka'ena Point - the leaping point for spirits on O'ahu

Once inside, another MVA worker pulled out the drivers exchanging tags.  They all seem to come behind us so my line did not grow shorter ... but longer as the tags went first.  So let's summarize to this point:

- Early morning
- Long line
- Wrong door
- And no book to read!

It couldn't get any worse, could it?  It did.   When it was finally our turn, I pulled out the required documents:

- birth certificate
- proof of residency
- Social Security Ccard

Er, no Social Security Card.  Although my son knew his number from memory, the agent needed to copy the card.   Naturally, I was polite .... er, you don't know me well. I transformed into a snarky person.  I asked why the MVA needed the card.  The agent replied it was State Law.  She should have stopped at that point but she added, "You also need a Social Security Card to buy a gun and board a plane. Without it, you might be placed on the DO NOT FLY list".   

Driving on the Big Island with active volcanoes

My son suggested that we leave but I asked to speak to a supervisor.   I soon explained that we followed the sign but waited in the long line to realize that I needed a social security card to drive, shoot, and fly.  I am fortunate that I had a calm supervisor who asked if I lived nearby.  When I responded yes, she suggested I retrieve the Social Security Card and come back to her.  She would direct me to another agent without having to stand in line again.   

Upon leaving the MVA, we spotted the Girl Scouts selling cookies.   We bought a box of Tagalongs - at this point only I was having a chocolate emergency.   We ate half the box on the drive back to my house.

With the Social Security Card in hand, we raced back to the MVA.   True to her word, the supervisor referred us to an available agent.  Once our paperwork was processed, my son took the test - 25 out of 25.  We celebrated by polishing off the box of Tagalongs.  Then I observed to my son, "You came here to take a test to prove you could read signs and yet the staff can't read their own signs."  Still, the supervisor demonstrated the Aloha Spirit and I did not.  

Care to share any stories from your adventures at the DMV?

And the adventure is just beginning as we start driving around the neighborhood!


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Vintage Truck at Kailua Beach

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Aloha to The Big Apple - Midtown and WICKED

For Day 2, we met friends at Macy's flagship store. 

The day was overcast, so I was glad we toured the Empire State Building the previous night which offered a clear view.

We walked up Fashion Avenue (Seventh Avenue) and spotted the Fashion Walk of Fame.

It was fate, then, that this beautiful young lady asked me for directions.   She is a model!  

Closer to Times Square, we found the less fashionable ...

... but still functionable.

We walked over to the Rockefeller Center ....

... home to the NBC Studios.

We didn't have time for the Rockettes ... maybe next trip.

New York is going green with Citi Bikes.

We ate lunch at a deli, including "French Toast" ....

... and strawberry pancakes!

We followed the Yellow Brick Road to WICKED (link) ...

... loved it!  After the show, we stopped in ELLEN'S STARDUST DINER (link) ....  

... famous for its milkshakes ... 

... and its singing staff, waiting to breakout on Broadway!

Do you have a favorite musical?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Friday, March 21, 2014

Aloha to the Big Apple - Times Square and the Empire State Building

One of my college friends called me last week with an offer I could not refuse - a midweek trip to NYC to catch a Broadway show!   We arrived late Tuesday afternoon ... 

... and headed to Times Square for the bright lights!

We walked over to the Empire State Building.   Although the observation platform was mobbed with school tours, I squeezed through them to take  pictures.   Above is a view to the south where the Twin Towers once stood ...

... to the Northwest for a peek at Times Square ....

... and to the Northeast, featuring the Chrysler Building.

We walked back to Times Square up 5th Avenue, passing by the New York Public Library.

Have you visited NYC?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Back in Times Square with the military

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Aloha to Philmont Training - Rockburn Branch Trail

 My older son, an Eagle Scout, is training for a 10 day hiking expedition this summer at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico (link).   The training includes monthly hikes in the local area to prepare for the long haul.   Back in November, his Philmont crew hiked the Rockburn Branch Trail (link):

Come and explore this 415-acre wooded paradise! Rockburn Branch Park offers 7.4 miles of trails that wind through scenic woodlands, freshwater marshes and stream valleys. In the streams, look for crayfish, minnows, water striders and dragonflies. 

Although I did not join the hike, I appreciate the pictures from one of the Scout dads - he gave me permission to share his photos.   I especially appreciate the waterfalls, reminded me of my beloved Hawaii.

The woods look serene ... 

... with suprises around each corner!   Do you a favorite walking trail?


Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City